The Lakers waived Steve Nash to make room for Jabari Brown the rest of the season, a transaction that allowed them to take a closer look at a rookie while officially saying goodbye to an old-timer who never lived up to expectations with the team.
Nash announced his intention to retire last week but had remained on the Lakers’ roster. Despite getting waived, the 41-year-old will receive his entire $9.7-million salary this season.
Brown scored 22 points Monday against Philadelphia in what could have been his final game with the Lakers. His second 10-day contract expired that night, and the team had to decide whether to let him walk or sign him for the final two weeks of the season.
The Lakers also signed Brown to a non-guaranteed contract for next season for about $900,000. He will make just under $50,000 this season.
Brown, 22, averaged 9.4 points in 10 games since the Lakers plucked him from their Development League affiliate, the L.A. D-Fenders. He played college basketball at Missouri with Lakers rookie Jordan Clarkson.
Brown said after Monday’s game that he felt like he “helped himself” after making seven of 10 shots, three of four from three-point range, in the Lakers' 111-109 overtime victory.
“I was just trying to take good shots like I always do,” he said. “I was able to get in a groove and got a couple open ones. Once you knock a couple of those down, everything starts to feel better coming out of your hands.”
Brown was undrafted out of college but made some noise with the D-Fenders, averaging 24.4 points in the high-scoring Development League.
Nash played in 65 games for the Lakers, unable to overcome a slew of injuries that included recurring back problems and, in only his second game with the team, a broken leg. He did not play a game this season after announcing his decision to sit out because of his back.
He did not formally announce his retirement until last week, giving the Lakers the chance to try to trade his expiring contract. It was only a matter of time for Nash’s retirement announcement once the trade deadline came and went in late February.
Times correspondent Eric Pincus contributed to this report.